Manchester boasts 153 languages

Dec 12, 2012

(Phys.org)—Linguists at The University of Manchester have discovered their city boasts of at least 153 languages, making it one of the world's most diverse places.

And according to the University's Professor Yaron Matras, the list, compiled by the University's Multilingual Manchester project, could get even higher.

However, according to Professor Matras' research, released yesterday by the Office for has strongly under-estimated the number of multilingual households across the UK.

The project co-organiser said: "Manchester's diversity is higher than many countries in the world.

"It is very likely to be top of the list in Europe, certainly when compared to other cities of its size, perhaps only outflanked by London and Paris.

"We do know that around two thirds of Mancunian are bilingual  - a huge figure which indicates just how precious its linguistic culture is.

"As immigration and the arrival of overseas students to the city continues, it's fair to say that this already large list is set to grow.

"The question contained within the Census which asks for your  'main language' can be interpreted in different ways.

"Most multilinguals speak a language other than English at home, but use English at work or in their place of study, so they will answer that English is their 'main' language, even though this is not strictly accurate."

The web based Multilingual Manchester, an archive at mlm.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/ set up in 2010 to document, protect and support the languages spoken in Manchester, it is now the world's largest.

Authored by linguistics students and available for free, it contains over 100 reports on and language minorities in Manchester.

The public are also invited to send in material to the website which contains information on languages including Chitrali from North Pakistan, Konkani from Western India, Dagaare from Ghana and and Uyghur from NW China.

Professor Matras, who is based at the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, said: "Because of EU enlargement and the access granted to new EU citizens, in Manchester is more dynamic than most cities.

"Melbourne, for example, is famous for its many languages but as it tends to have very established communities it will be less diverse than Manchester.

"New York, on the other hand, is significantly larger in size and has been attracting immigrants for as long as Manchester so its diversity is probably greater.

"But Manchester as a community is much more active in responding to language needs at the level of public services."

Professor Matras' team has been working closely with local authorities and schools to advise on the language needs of the city.

They have worked with the NHS on prioritising languages for information and advice on access to health care, for city council agencies and schools.

They are also supporting the Manchester Association of Speech and Language Therapists on bilingualism and acquisition of literacy.

Another project supports the police and Council regeneration team on issues that concern access to services, education and representation for vulnerable groups.

Explore further: Texas OKs most new history textbooks amid outcry

More information: mlm.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Urban languages archive is world's largest

Oct 18, 2012

A University of Manchester archive set up in 2010 to document, protect and support the languages spoken in one of Europe's most diverse cities, is now the world's largest. The web based Multilingual Manchester, ...

Language diversity will make London a true global player

May 10, 2012

Understanding linguistic diversity among London's schoolchildren is key for the city's future as a 'global player', research shows. A study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) mapped the distribution ...

Multilingualism brings communities closer together

Feb 10, 2009

Learning their community language outside the home enhances minority ethnic children's development, according to research led from the University of Birmingham. The research, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research ...

Recommended for you

Study identifies why re-educating torturers may not work

Nov 21, 2014

Many human rights educators assume – incorrectly, as it turns out – that police and military officers in India who support the torture of suspects do so because they are either immoral or ignorant. This ...

Research helps raise awareness of human trafficking

Nov 21, 2014

Human trafficking –– or the control, ownership and sale of another human being for monetary gain –– was a common occurrence centuries ago, but many believe it doesn't exist in this day and age and not in this country.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.